The Navy is proposing new, permanent danger zones in and around Whitehall Bay, a well-traveled waterway that serves as the entrance to Mill Creek (home of the famous crab spot Cantler’s Riverside Inn),
In addition to two sections of Whitehall Bay, there would be a third danger zone on Carr Creek just west of Whitehall Bay.
That means that when the U.S. Naval Academy firing range is in use, boat traffic would be restricted in both areas. Boaters would be notified in the form of a Notice to Mariners, social media posts, a courtesy call to the Annapolis Harbormaster and a spotter monitor on duty while the range is operating.
All people, vessels and other watercraft would be banned from “anchoring, mooring, loitering or transiting” while range operations pose a safety risk. The Carr Creek danger zone would be in effect more frequently, with traffic restricted 4 to 6 times per week. The areas in Whitehall Bay would only be restricted once or twice a year, according to Naval Support Activity Annapolis. The agency points out that the Whitehall Bay danger zones do not block the entrance to Mill Creek.
If a vessel crosses into a danger zone area, range operations will stop completely until the area is clear.
“Safety is a primary concern at NSA Annapolis, and we want to ensure that we have a security buffer between activity in the water and military operations, said Capt. Homer Denius, NSA Annapolis commanding officer. “These danger zones are necessary to enable the safe operation of the United States Naval Academy firing range to support our Navy mission.”
NSAA submitted the proposal in response to a 2019 Navy safety inspection, which concluded that “range operations pose a risk to boating in these waters, violating DOD Unified Facilities Criteria.” NSAA is located across from the Naval Academy, in the area of Greenbury Point.
NSAA has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers since then to establish Surface Danger Zones to protect boaters when the firing range is in use.
“We aim to impact as little boat traffic as possible,” Denius says, and “to be responsible neighbors to Annapolis mariners.”
You can see the exact coordinates of the danger zones here.
-Meg Walburn Viviano